When you think of genres that go together with horror you typically thing things like drama, comedy and sometimes sci-fi, but never before have I thought of a horror western. That, however, is exactly what the film Bone Tomahawk is. You may be hesitant like I was when I received a text from my sister telling me about a “creepy western” that I needed to watch, but let me tell you it was nothing like what I expected.
This film is a horror western about a tribe of inbred, cannibalistic Native American’s who kidnap three people from a nearby settlement. In keeping with the theme of movies that build the creepy feel for a long time before throwing you into the action ( https://goryrodden.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/bewitched-by-the-witch/ ) this is a film that definitely builds to a gore-filled climax.
The first half of the movie follows the trek of the town of Bright Hope’s Sheriff, played by the legendary Kurt Russell, and Arthur O’Dwyer, played by Patrick Wilson, and two other men on their trek to rescue O’Dwyer’s wife from this cannibalistic tribe.
The movie opens on two robbers murdering a group of travelers as they sleep, but they are scared off by the sound of approaching horses and they run to hide in an Indian burial ground. One of the men is murdered by a mysterious figure while the other makes an escape and shows up in Bright Hope eleven days later. The Sheriff (Russell) goes to check things out when this drifter rolls in and an altercation ends in him shooting the man in the leg. Mrs. O’Dwyer is brought in to help with the injured man’s leg because we find out that the town doctor is a drunk and is too far gone to do any sort of medical procedure.
Her husband (Wilson) is at home in bed attempting to recover from some sort of injury to his own leg from an accident at his job as a foreman. Mrs. O’Dwyer never comes home, however, and the Sheriff returns to the station the next morning to find an arrow stuck in the wall and a completely empty jail. His deputy, Mrs. O’Dwyer, and the drifter have all disappeared and they easily deduce that they were taken by Native Americans.
Mr. O’Dwyer insists on going with them to find his wife despite his injuries. A local Native American whom they consult with warns them to forget about it and stay put. He tells them that there is no way that they will survive a trip to the caves where this tribe lives.
They don’t listen.
This movie was rather slow moving at first, and I wasn’t sure if I was completely on board with it. Then the action started and it was some of the tensest moments of film I’ve ever seen. Not only does this film have the actual horror of this almost inhuman tribe of cannibals with absolutely no mercy, but we are also reminded just how incredibly difficult frontier life actually was in America. There is the very real, looming possibility that Mr. O’Dwyer could die at any moment just from a simple cut on his leg. We are also confronted with the tension of the settlers taking the land from the Native Americans and the very real threat of their retaliation the settlers faced.
I digress, however.
I will say if you don’t like gore DO NOT WATCH THIS FILM. The gore only lasts for probably twenty minutes of the entire film, but the gore in that moment is so intense that I had to turn my head several times and shield the eyes of the friend I was watching this movie with. If you can handle gore then absolutely watch this film. But I don’t want any of you getting the idea to watch this because of my blog and then you being hit in the face by cannibalistic Native American’s scalping a man and cutting him in half because I didn’t warn you.
What do you think about this odd mixture of genres? What do you think about gore in situations such as this? Can you handle it if it isn’t excessive?
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